View Poll Results: Which is correct?

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897. This poll is closed
  • If I would eat better, I would be healthier.

    169 18.84%
  • If I ate better, I would be healthier.

    728 81.16%
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Thread: Conditional

  1. #11
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Conditional

    It is semantics, unless the person speaking is particularly stubborn and regrets it.

  2. #12
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Conditional

    Maybe it's time for one of us to offer an explanation for learners, or should we make them wait a bit longer?

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Conditional

    you are absolutely right.

  4. #14
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Conditional

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Maybe it's time for one of us to offer an explanation for learners, or should we make them wait a bit longer?
    Isn't it Rewboss's thread? So I suppose he should do the honors, Tdol?

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Conditional

    It works for the poll sentence.

    "Would" can disrupt the normal rules of the conditionals where it refers to obstinate refusal.

    "If you would lend me the money, I wouldn't have to walk home"

    similarly "would have lent" and "wouldn't have had to".

    "Would" is also related to obstinacy in sentences like "I wish you wouldnt do that"

    but can also refer to annoyance with one's own habits. I heard a little boy with a bloody knee say, "I wish I wouldn't run", which sounded OK to me

    Cosequently, poll sentence is OK

  6. #16
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    Default Re: Conditional

    Thanks a lot. It's very clear.

  7. #17
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Conditional

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluefields View Post
    It works for the poll sentence.

    "Would" can disrupt the normal rules of the conditionals where it refers to obstinate refusal.

    "If you would lend me the money, I wouldn't have to walk home"

    similarly "would have lent" and "wouldn't have had to".

    "Would" is also related to obstinacy in sentences like "I wish you wouldnt do that"

    but can also refer to annoyance with one's own habits. I heard a little boy with a bloody knee say, "I wish I wouldn't run", which sounded OK to me

    Cosequently, poll sentence is OK

    Excellent posting, Bluefields. I did not "feel" that meaning. Like an "If only I would ..."

    I'd like to, and I'd like you and others to expand on this if you would. There is a prohibition against "if S would/wouldn't ..." but I feel that it isn't for grammatical reasons we avoid these in some collocations. Rather, it's because of semantic considerations.

    Tdol thought so too.

    So just what are these normal rules of the conditionals that prohibit 'would'?

    Volitional 'would' is acceptable but other uses are frowned upon.

  8. #18
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Conditional

    I said that the poll sentence didn't work for me, not that it was wrong, because from it, and we are dealing without wider context, it doesn't convey obstinate refusal to me. If the example said 'if only', then I would be much happier with it, or if the sentence dealt with someone else orsomething that was harder to control, like drugs or alcohol. I don't think it's a wrong sentence, but I think it is forcing it to extract obstinate refusal from it.

  9. #19
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Conditional

    I understand your feeling, Tdol. It didn't work for me either, at first. But we must allow that context is a mighty important factor in determining the efficacy of any given collocation.

    In addition to obstinacy, which I'm not saying is the case in the subject sentence, we also have the notion of regret. An 'only' isn't absolutely necessary to effect that feeling. Intonational shifts can also illustrate the 'only' feeling.

    Iiiiif IIIII would eat better, IIIIII would be healthier.

    Something that is difficult to show in writing.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Conditional

    The modal verb "will", and its past-tense (that's "past tense" in the purely technical sense) form "would" can sometimes indicate habit, especially when there is stubbornness involved. In the present:

    He will always take the bus, even though the train is much more convenient.

    And in the past:

    She would always turn the TV off at the most exciting moment -- that's why I left her.

    We can actually omit the word "always", but we have to be careful with the intonation. Usually we stress the modal verb:

    He will take the train...
    She would take the train...

    (Excuse me if this post seems a little disjointed; my wife is deliberately trying to distract me because, as she has just informed me, she likes to annoy me. In fact, I could say: She will insist on asking me questions about the first time I kissed a girl...)

    In these sentences, the speaker clearly disapproves (now my wife is telling me how her comfortable shoes are falling apart).

    In Tdol's sentence, we have a similar feeling of disapproval, except that the speaker disapproves of the fact that he doesn't eat better. The modal verb "would" expresses the idea of a habit, while "if only" indicates a desire that is unfulfilled.

    Compare:

    "If I had a hammer" (but I don't); and
    "If only I had a hammer" (I really, really need a hammer, but I don't have one).

    We can move the word "only" to a different position:

    "If I only had a hammer."

    Finally, the past tense form "would" is used not to indicate that the action should have happened in the past, but to indicate that the action is hypothetical -- that is, that the action never took place and most probably never will:

    "If he would only eat better..."

    That means the same as:

    "I really wish he had a habit of eating better, because then he wouldn't have so many health problems."

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